The United States defeated China on Saturday in Quezon City, Philippines, to improve to 6-1 in the Volleyball Nations League. Kathryn Plummer had 18 kills and Kelsey Robinson had 13.
Plummer led the team with two aces and six digs. Robinson finished with six digs and an ace. Danielle Cuttino had seven kills, six digs, and a block, while Haleigh Washington had six kills, three blocks, and two aces. Setter Micha Hancock had four kills, three aces, two digs, and two blocks, while Hannah Tapp had four kills, two blocks, and three digs. Justine Wong-Orantes led the team with 11 digs.
China was led by Yingying Li, who had 12 kills and a block, and Xiangyu Gong, who had nine kills and two blocks.
The Americans, who are now in second position, will play Thailand in the second round on Sunday. The third leg will be held in Sofia, Bulgaria. China (5-2) finishes against Japan (7-0), which leads the rankings. Saturday was a holiday in Japan.
Olympian Courtney Thompson, who was doing the match commentary for VolleballWorld.tv, interviewed Plummer after the game. Thompson has a distinct interviewing technique. It was sufficiently good to be transcribed in its entirety. Also worth noting is the fact that middle Anna Stevenson, who is new to the USA squad but was an All-American for Louisville last season, is from Laurens, South Carolina:
Thompson: Man, Plummer, what an incredible match. You could feel the energy in this gym. What did it feel like to be out there tonight?
Plummer: It’s always going to be a great match against China and USA. The fans were great and brought a lot of energy. It was just really great to have a really good team win. Everyone was really connected and it was a fun one, for sure.”
Thompson: So fun to watch. You hit the crap out of the ball. It’s awesome. You made some good adjustments. What was your focus tonight heading into the match?
Plummer: I think just being smart on attacking. The first set I had a couple of errors I didn’t want. They have a huge block. So just being smart, using edges … during the match we did a good job of adjusting.
Thompson: For sure. You guys are headed into week three after tomorrow and then the finals in Turkey. What do you look for the team to establish as you head into the last two weeks?
Plummer: Every week we have a different group, so I think we’re just trying to get connections for the rest of the summer. And its starting to feel like us again and I’m just excited to keep playing, experimenting and getting better every day.
Thompson: That’s awesome. Last question, who’s made you laugh the most on the trip so far?
Plummer: That’s a tough one. But I think Anna Stevenson. She’s a young one and she has that southern accent. She just has no filter and is really funny. She’s new so she’s just in awe of everything, so it’s really fun to go through it with her. She’s just really funny.”
USA men’s roster
The USA men, who started VNL with victories over Slovenia, Netherlands, Japan and Brazil in Brasilia, Brazil, head now to Bulgaria for the second round. They play Serbia on Wednesday, followed by matches against Iran, Bulgaria and Poland.
Five players joined the team, including four Olympians in outsides TJ DeFalco and Garrett Muagututia, libero Erik Shoji and middle Mitch Stahl. Opposite Kyle Russell will make his VNL debut.
Nine of the 14 players who went to Brazil return, including setters Josh Tuaniga and James Shaw, offensive leader and opposite Kyle Ensing, libero Kyle Dagostino, middles David Smith Jeff Jendryk and Tyler Mitchem, and outsides Aaron Russell and Thomas Jaeschke.
The new roster has three players each from Long Beach State and Stanford, two each from Loyola, UCLA and UC Irvine
(No. Player (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
2. Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., Penn St.)
3. James Shaw (S, 6-8, Woodside, Calif. Stanford.)
4. Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola.)
5. Kyle Ensing (OPP, 6-7, Valencia, Calif., Long Beach St.)
6. Mitch Stahl (MB, 6-8, Chambersburg, Pa., UCLA)
8. T.J. DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach St.)
10. Kyle Dagostino (L, 5-9, Tampa, Florida, Stanford)
15. Kyle Russell (OPP, 6-9, Loomis, Calif., UC Irvine)
16. Josh Tuaniga (S, 6-3, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach St.)
17. Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola)
18. Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
27. Tyler Mitchem (MB, 6-11, Bolingbrook, Ill., Lewis)